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Combating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Kenya - Badili Africa

Combating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Kenya

Badili Africa in a meeting to end gender and sexual harassment

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) remains a pervasive issue in Kenya, affecting countless women and girls. Despite legislative efforts and public awareness campaigns, the battle against SGBV continues to be an urgent priority. At Badili Africa, we believe that survivors deserve a voice and support, even in the face of deep-rooted stigma. This blog post explores the current landscape of SGBV in Kenya, the challenges faced, and the initiatives that are making a difference in the fight against this violation of human rights.

The Scope of the Problem

Sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya manifests in various forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, and trafficking. According to a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, nearly half of Kenyan women experience gender-based violence at some point in their lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, with reports of increased domestic violence during lockdowns and movement restrictions.

Root Causes of SGBV

Several factors contribute to the prevalence of Sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya:

1. Cultural Norms and Practices: Traditional beliefs and practices often perpetuate gender inequality and normalize violence against women and girls. Practices such as FGM and child marriage are deeply entrenched in some communities.

2. Economic Dependence: Women’s economic dependence on men can make it difficult for them to leave abusive relationships or seek justice.

3. Weak Legal Frameworks and Enforcement: Although there are laws in place, such as the Sexual Offences Act (2006) and the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act (2015), enforcement is often weak. Survivors face numerous barriers in accessing justice, including stigma, lack of support, and corruption.

4. Inadequate Support Services: There is a lack of comprehensive support services for survivors, including medical care, psychological support, and safe shelters.

Initiatives and Strategies to Combat Sexual and gender-based violence

Addressing SGBV requires a multifaceted approach involving legal reform, education, community engagement, and support services. Here are some key initiatives and strategies making an impact in Kenya:

1. Legal Reforms and Advocacy

   – Strengthening the enforcement of existing laws and pushing for new legislation that provides better protection for women and girls. Advocacy groups are working tirelessly to ensure that laws are not only passed but also implemented effectively.

   – The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) plays a crucial role in monitoring and promoting gender equality and advising on the implementation of laws related to SGBV.

2. Community Education and Engagement

   – Programs that educate communities about the harmful effects of SGBV and promote gender equality are essential. Engaging men and boys as allies in the fight against SGBV is particularly important.

   – Organizations like the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) work at the grassroots level to challenge harmful cultural norms and empower women.

3. Support Services for Survivors

   – Providing comprehensive support services, including medical care, counseling, legal assistance, and safe shelters. One example is the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Center (GBVRC) at Kenyatta National Hospital, which offers a range of services to survivors.

   – Mobile clinics and helplines, such as those operated by organizations like Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), are crucial in reaching survivors in remote areas.

4. Economic Empowerment Programs

   – Initiatives that promote the economic independence of women, such as vocational training and microfinance programs, can help reduce vulnerability to SGBV.

   – Organizations like the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) provide training and resources to help women start and grow businesses.

5. Partnerships and Collaboration

   – Collaboration between government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international bodies, and community groups is vital. Joint efforts can enhance the reach and effectiveness of programs aimed at combating SGBV.

   – International support from organizations like UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provides funding and expertise to local initiatives.

 By empowering survivors to share their stories through artistic expression in our Make-Up Activism exhibition, we aim to shine a light on the impact of stigma and inspire a society that listens, supports, and acts. Our platform allows survivors to tell their stories without the burden of repeated exposure to strangers, breaking the cycle of re-stigmatization. 

Conclusion

Combating sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya is a complex and ongoing struggle. However, through concerted efforts across legal, educational, and community fronts, significant strides can be made. By empowering survivors, challenging harmful norms, and ensuring robust support systems, Kenya can move towards a future where all women and girls live free from violence and fear. 

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